Mature Class Study notes, teacher Edith Tolbert
Paul had been arrested in Caesarea, requested permission stand before Caesar, survived shipwreck on the way to Rome for trial, and survived being bitten by a poisonous snake. On board ship in a storm at sea, Paul fasted and prayed two weeks. God said all would be spared if they stayed on board but the ship would be wrecked. Now he was under house arrest in shackles. He was pretty isolated. We don’t have anything to complain about compared to Paul. He had someone write Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. God used Paul. He wasn’t thinking about himself. He wanted to make sure the people of God and churches got established, so he was praying and bowing to the Father of our Lord.
God forgives us of our sins but we still have a carnal nature. We need to be strengthened in the inner man so the carnal nature is removed and the Holy Spirit fills us. Paul asked God to strengthen the people in the inner man with might by his Spirit. When the inner man is filled and changed, we have strength to be an overcomer. God wants us filled with all the fullness of God. If a jar is just a little bit full or we aren’t filled with the fullness of God, our emotions are going show on the outside when trials and tests come. What happened to the disciples? They argued about who was the greatest and wanted to call fire from heaven because somebody wasn’t doing what they thought they should be doing. They were retaliating. Another time people came with needs and the apostles tried to send them away. They didn’t want children to come to Jesus. Things disturbed them on the inside. They were saved but not filled with God’s fullness. If we’re not filled with God’s fullness, you see the water in the jar is shaking. If we’re filled, God helps us be an overcomer in every situation.
Ephesians 3:14-19…I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend…to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Paul didn’t have ideal situations. On the road to Damascus, he was completely submitted to God and said “what would you have me to do?” God sent Ananias to pray for him that his eyes would be open and he would receive the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Holy Spirit, it’s the fullness of God and it’s complete. If it isn’t complete, it’s because we’ve held on to something and we aren’t a living sacrifice. Paul said nothing was going to move him because he didn’t count his life dear and wanted to finish his course with joy. We have to be sure we have the fullness of God so when situations come, they won’t disturb us and we can finish our course with joy. God said to Ananias Paul was chosen to preach his name to the Gentiles, kings, and to all of Israel. He said “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Paul was a chosen vessel to use however God wanted. When we’re saved and sanctified with the fullness of God, are we willing as chosen vessels to let him use us however he wishes? In the midst of the pandemic with smoke all around us, God still wants us to have his fullness. The next verse says God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.” The power that works in us is the fullness of God that helps us overcome in every situation. We can overcome things we thought we’d never be able to. If you have a bad temper, God can help you to overcome. Submit it to God and work at it. God will help you to get it completely submitted.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
God is not a respecter of persons. We’re accepted if we fear him, love him with all our heart, and work righteousness by living a holy life. Being accepted by God isn’t based on whether we have a mustache, wear red or not, or have open toed shoes. Man-made rules only separate. The gospel of God brings unity. God is no respecter of persons and that way he can fill us with all his fullness of what he wants. In this journey, everyone has a different lot in life. God wants to teach all of us patience and to depend completely on him. Paul found himself in a situation where he had to learn patience. He had to learn longsuffering and to completely just depend on God. God wants us to learn the same things in our situation.
Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
We are to abound with thanksgiving. Abound means to exceed, excel, to have enough to spare, over and above, beyond measure. That means start thinking about and praising God for his goodness and mercy – when you wake up, during the day when things buffet you, and before you go to bed. To abound means to be over and above.
Colossians 2:6-7 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
This song by the Collinsworth family is encouraging: Joy Is Not Cancelled, by Kim Collingsworth.
“When life is put on hold, All our plans have cancelled, Things have changed, Nothing feels the same, Disappointments fears and doubts, Go hand in hand and waves of war, Everywhere uncertainty, But in the midst of chaos, In the midst of fear, There is something to remember, Yes there is something we all need to hear, Joy is not cancelled, It still remains, Gods’ goodness, kindness, His grace isn’t running low, And He has not changed, So when the trials and test they come, Darkness only hides the sun, And You can’t seem to find Your way, No light of day, They never change they will endure, No matter what things look like, All around us, In the midst of chaos, In the midst of fear, There is something to remember, Yes there is something we all need to hear, Joy is not cancelled, It still remains, Gods’ goodness, kindness, His grace isn’t running low, And He has not changed, His power is still abundant, His mercies are still new, God’s plans have not been cancelled, He’s fully in control, And everything that matter still remains, Yes everything that matter still remains.”
When everything around seems uncertain and the enemy tries to bring lots of fears, we have the fullness of God in us and all the fruits of the Spirit. Joy is not canceled and we need to abound with thanksgiving in the midst of it all. We’re completing in him. The verse says beware lest any man spoil you. The enemy is out to discourage us, to get us anxious and fearful, to get us agitated, instead of resting in the promises of God and the fullness that God wants in us.
Proverbs 24:30-32 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down…
This man was lazy. In talking to people around the neighborhood, they say “I don’t feel like doing anything” and “I just feel like sitting and doing nothing.” The enemy is out to get the people of God to be slothful, to not feel like reading the Bible. You’ve got to have some intuition, some diligence to do it anyway. Intuitiveness is being able to get things done without being told. We shouldn’t have to be told to read our Bible or to pray. Prayer needs to be automatic, that we’re diligent about and we pray no matter how we feel. The enemy has access to your feelings. In these times of oppressive feelings in the world, the enemy works hard trying to get people to be slothful, to stop reading and praying diligently. Our field will start growing weeds. Have you all seen Elmer out on the church property digging up weeds? Every week he’s digging them up. It doesn’t take long for the enemy to get weeds growing in our life if we’re not diligent to do what God wants. Incentive is doing the right thing without being told. We all need incentive. Some do the right thing after they’re told two or three times. Others do the right thing if they’re pushed to do it. Some you can tell how to do the right thing and stand by them, but they still won’t do the right thing. They’ve made up their mind to do whatever. Initiative is highly desired in the work world – those who are willing to get the job done, aren’t late all the time or leaving early, and are hard workers. God wants that kind of an attitude in us. Paul couldn’t go preach as he was under arrest but wrote to encourage others. We all needs courage, strength, and to be able to go above and beyond mediocre. God wants happy people full of thanksgiving. He wants us to increase and abound in love toward each other. Ask God to help us be workers in the kingdom. Make sure the love of God is abounding more and more, not less and less. Increase and abound in love by praying, making calls, or writing letters or cards to others.
I Thessalonians 3:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
I Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
We can’t do the same things we used to do, but God still wants us to abound in every good work and not be slothful.
II Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
It says in I Corinthians 15:58 to be always abounding in the work of the Lord. That’s going above and beyond. Don’t sit idle and say there’s nothing to do. Ask God to help you. Listen to the choir and group songs posted on the Church Of God congregation website to get songs in your mind that keep you encouraged. When they rebuilt the temple, they had many adversaries. It isn’t by our might or power but by his Spirit, the fullness of God, we have power and strength to be victorious.
Zechariah 4:6…the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord…
When they were going to rebuild the wall, there were constant situations where people were fighting them and didn’t want the wall built. The enemy is constantly trying to get us discouraged, to not work for the Lord, but to be all about ourselves and how we feel. It isn’t about us but about God and what he wants. Nehemiah told them no and that he was doing a great work and not going to come. They came four times and he sent the same message: I’m not going to do it; I’m doing a great work. We have to tell the devil the same thing when he comes to our mind and be diligent to cast down all the imaginations, thoughts of discouragement, negative thoughts, things that disturb our emotions, and all fears.
Nehemiah 6:2-4 That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.
Later they came to and wanted Nehemiah to lock himself in the temple so nobody would kill him. He perceived it was to scare him. The enemy likes to scare us but God doesn’t want us to live in fear. God says to fear not. Nehemiah prayed and said they wanted him to fear and to sin. That’s what the devil wants to do – to fear and sin, but we can tell him no.
Nehemiah 6:13 Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me.